Former University of Maine defenseman Jakub Sirota skates after the puck in a game against UMass Lowell at Alfond Arena on Jan. 13, 2023. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Former University of Maine defenseman and hockey captain Jakub Sirota has begun his professional career with the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild.

Sirota has signed an amateur tryout contract for the remainder of the season with the Wild, which is the top minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild.

He has been with the team for a week during a trip to California, where the Wild have played three games since he joined. The Wild conclude the California swing with a Tuesday game against the San Diego Gulls before going home for a Friday game against the Grand Rapids Griffins. 

The Wild only have 10 regular season games remaining. Sirota has yet to play but has been practicing with the coaches and the other players who aren’t regulars as he gets acclimated to the pro game. Due to the heavy game schedule, the regulars rarely practice. 

“The game is a lot different at this level [than in college]. The guys are a little bigger and faster,” Sirota said. “But I’m confident. It suits my style of game. Once I get my chance, I’ll be fine.” 

The 24-year-old Sirota, who played in all situations at UMaine, had his best season as a Black Bears this past season, leading the team to a sixth-place finish in America East after being picked to finish last in the preseason coaches poll.

He had a career-high six goals and 16 points. He had 10 assists for the third straight season. His 16 points were fifth-best on the team and tops among UMaine defensemen. He had two goals and three assists in his final five games.

The 6-foot-2, 207-pound native of Kromeriz, Czechia (Czech Republic), had two power play goals, two game-winning goals and blocked 36 shots, which was third most on the team. He concluded his 130-game UMaine career with 13 goals and 42 assists for 55 points.

“I’m happy that Jakub has earned the opportunity to chase his dreams. His leadership the past two years has been exemplary and he has sacrificed a lot to help us improve on and off the ice,” UMaine head coach Ben Barr said.

Sirota, who is one of eight defensemen on the Wild roster, said he likes his coaches and teammates and will continue working hard so he’ll be ready when he gets his chance to play.

He is familiar with the state of Iowa since he spent the 2016-17 season playing for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the United States Hockey League. Cedar Rapids is 128 miles northeast of Des Moines, the state capital and home of the Wild.